St. Joseph’s University might have defeated Bradley University in the school’s men’s basketball home opener, but it was what happened in the stands during the game that was truly exceptional.
Following a forum to promote diversity and inclusion that drew 1,800 university members, St. Joe’s students backed that event up by wearing black shirts to the game in an effort to promote inclusion and unity.
During a timeout, the “blackout” was acknowledged by athletic director Jill Bodensteiner.
“I love that it was student driven,” Bodensteiner told The Hawk. “It shows there are a lot of great people here at St. Joe’s and we’re not going to let those who are not in the same mindset rule the day.”
George Frattara ’20, honors chair for USS, said holding the blackout during the first basketball game is a way to reach the students who may not have attended the forum on Nov. 4.
“Athletics is a good way to connect with the community,” Frattara said. “Basketball is obviously something students are really interested in. It’s a way to connect with a broader spectrum of people in the community at St. Joe’s and hopefully to send a message to students who may not be so concerned with the issue.”
Hawk cheerleaders and the first 100 fans in the student section were given “Hawks Fly Together” shirts designed by the athletic department.
Head basketball coach Billy Lange, who secured his first win with the team, acknowledged the student section and their call for unity.
“The cause is love, right? The cause is respect,” Lange said. “I’m happy for our team because we are a high-profile team and we are a very diverse team, both in race and geography. For our guys to sit and talk about that without me asking them to do that shows the type of character these guys have.”